#writering: shattered ceilings

Above: Judy Wieder, author of Random Events Tend to Cluster, and 5-year-old Janet Jackson.

What a life. Judy Wieder is the unicorn; a smasher of ceilings every which way. She was the first female editor of The Advocate, the oldest LGBT publication in America, where she published talent such as Ellen Degeneres and Melissa Ethridge.

In a world of no women, she wrote pop songs and hit number one. She was so talented, she was soon working for Motown. Can you imagine, female AND white at the hit factory in Detroit? Did she and her colleagues understand they worked in a place that – like Sun and Abbey Road studios – would become a monument to music? Something big was happening there and the air had to be charged with rock and roll energy. Let’s do an interview with Judy and see what it was like…….

The title – Random Events Tend to Cluster – is the perfect way to sum up a life. In Judy’s case, her life does not seem so random. Far from it. Each step has been towards the right to be an individual, to be equal, respected and free. She marched through one of the wildest times in 20th century America – the 60s, 70s and 80s – and came out the other side. She helped shape the world of women’s rights and the LGBTQ community in more ways than we can ever know.

Thank you, Judy. We owe you a lot.

Beth Wareham is the editor-in-chief of Lisa Hagan Books, a writer and editor based in New York City.

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Fear and Camping



th.jpegLisa Hagan Books


What is it about a flashlight and a book? Sure, there is an element – no matter what your age – that your mom is going to bust in and tell you to go to sleep. But something runs deeper with a tiny pool of light and the endless black woods. Talk about existential threat. Your lizard brain is jumping and when you read a scary book out there in the void, each word is scarier than the last.

If you’ve spent time in Maine, you understand how Stephen King got his scary. Those woods are dark. Just walking from car to house must be navigated by starlight. It’s that black. I was an impressionable age when I read Salem’s Lot, 17, and in the wilds of Mexico. In the book (as well as in the primary work), vampires knock on a window in the dark night to gain entrance and suck necks. A Mexican waiter rapped on mine and I became so frightened, I cried.

In the werewolf corner, I am haunted by Sharp Teeth. I read it in manuscript and loved it. My opinion hasn’t changed. Werewolves run wild in Los Angeles, ensnaring a dogcatcher who falls for an outlier werewolf-ess. And did I tell you it’s written in blank verse?  If you’re rolling your eyes, it’s not for you. But if you like unusual, jump!  Harper Collins ended up publishing the book, for which I am grateful.

Dean Koontz, H.P. Lovecraft, and this gentleman will put all sorts of frightening ideas in your head with just a few suggestive words.  Invest in an anthology of the last two and pack it with your sleeping bag each summer. There is that much scary material to make the investment worth it.  Throw in The Turn of the Screw, Henry James’ big attempt at creepy and he succeeded. A novella – thank goodness because that Henry do go on! – this can be read in an hour.

Last, but not least, have you ever noticed that UFOs usually land in fields, woods or desert? Disc-shaped craft never come down on the Met Life building or the 101.  It’s because aliens know it’s even scarier when they land in unpopulated unlit places and frighten campers. The scariest UFO books I’ve read? 365 Days of UFOs is an historical accounting of landings, sightings, controversies, experiments, monster tracking, and coverups – one for each day of the year. Many happen in the fields and forests of Europe and middle America or the grit of the Southwest.  Roswell, a book by Nick Redfern, author of the 365 book above, is scary in a different way. It lays out a damning case against a government conspiracy that promoted little green men in a  misdirection campaign away from secret experiments at the end of WWII.  Roswell may be the scariest when you contemplate what other programs our government has hidden.

Being scared is fun and a big black wall of woods pierced by flashlight sets a fine mood. Here are more lists of favorite scary book from Men’s Journal , Flavorwire and Paste.

Enjoy the summer, share your scary book #recs with us, and don’t forget your mosquito spray.

Great camping gear: REI  amazon.com L.L. Bean

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Q&A With UFO Researcher Nick Redfern


or Nick Redfern’s World of Whatever 


(Look carefully at the photo above. Can you spot our visitors from another world?)

Q) Do you have favorite “days” in the 365 UFO book?

A)  On the night of October 25, 1973, there was a very weird Bigfoot-UFO encounter in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The weirder side of the Bigfoot phenomenon interests me a lot. Also, the crop circle phenomenon is one that interests me a great deal, too. There are 4 or 5 such cases in the book of crop circles.

Q) Are there stories and reports that just keep drawing you back in?

A) Yeah, I would say the Men in Black-type cases. That whole phenomenon (MIB, Women in Black, Shadow People, etc) is my favorite to investigate and write about. I keep coming back to it and probably always will! It’s very different to the MIB of the movies – much creepier and weirder.

Q) Have you always “believed” or has there been an episode in your life you couldn’t explain?

A) Well, I try not to get caught up in belief systems too much. I try and work on facts and evidence. But, yes I have had some weird experiences over the years. I have had a lot of very strange synchronicities. I also had a very strange experiences with a ghostly pet back in 2003, Charity the Sharpei, who was a great friend and still missed.

Q) What is the most disturbing aspect of UFO phenomenon? The most hilarious?

A) The most sinister aspect, as I see it, is when people get manipulated by the phenomenon and it can have a big, adverse effect on them. I think there is a dark side to the phenomenon that manipulates people deliberately and it can cause a lot of havoc. Some of the most hilarious stories are those from the 1950s, the era of the Contactees. One of them, Truman Bethurum, told of meeting an alien woman named Aura Rhanes. He described her as being “tops in shapeliness and beauty!” There are lots of wacky stories like that!

Q) Do you think we’ll ever find out what happened at the most famous of sites/crashes?

A) It’s hard to say. Roswell is the most famous crash case and, even with the 70th anniversary now looming on the horizon, we still don’t really know what happened. And no files have ever surfaced. So, it’s very difficult to know for sure what happened. I’m not sure with Roswell if we will ever get the proof of what happened. It may be in lock-down mode forever.

Q) If you could stand at any moment during all we know of the history of ufo sightings, what moment would you want to see?

A) I would go back to the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, New Mexico in early July 1947. That was when and where the Roswell craft came down. Ideally, I would be right there as it slammed into the ground and I would know what really took place.

Q) If I saw a UFO, I’d run. Is that the correct response? (I’m thinking, “never run from a lion, they’ll think you’re prey” here…)

A)I think the ideal thing to do is stay there and take it all in. But, some people are definitely traumatized by UFO encounters, and it’s hard to predict how people might respond when faced with a UFO.

Q) What’s the scariest place you’ve ever been? I was afraid of the monster on the Mekong in your book. Whoa that thing scared me.

A) I don’t really get frightened on expeditions, etc. For me, it’s more of an Adrenalin rush. I have had a lot of good times on Puerto Rico searching for the Chupacabra. The island’s El Yunque rain-forest is a mysterious and cool place!

We have a special promotion to celebration Nick’s work, the perfect “big picture” UFO, monster-hunting, crop circle whirling tour-de-force through every day of the year through history:  365 Days of UFOs by Nick Redfern.

#Cliches are not good, but… #writing



from Keep It Short by Charles Euchner


To give clichés life—to make them fresh and original again— find something surprising to add to them.

Too often, we use familiar ideas without really under- standing their meaning. We repeat phrases and ideas carelessly.

When we overuse expressions, we live in a fool’s paradise. We cannot hold a candle to the halcyon days, our salad days, when we suited the action to the word and revealed the naked truth. But we give short shrift to language, writing with neither rhyme nor reason. And we lose such stuff as dreams were made of, at’s neither here nor there, since these expressions are dead as a doornail. Coming full circle, we realize, more in sorrow than anger, and it’s a foregone conclusion that overuse of such terms is a fatal vision. So, in one fell swoop, we throw cold water on it.

All of those expressions come from Shakespeare. ese expressions once expressed ideas with freshness and originality. But used over and over, they have lost their vitality. Too o en, we use these clichés not because they express ideas well, but because they o er a simple way to say something. ey let us say something without thinking.

Remember you want to make the reader see, feel, helpless, harmless. Milo’s dead.” By using the slack, disinterested tone of a gumshoe, Lynch moves us away from sickly sentimentality.


Samuel Beckett uses clichés in playful ways to make them fresh. He writes: “Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards.” And then, describing the odor of graveyards, he added that he will breathe in the smell of corpses “when take the air I must.” In her memoir of family suicide, Joan Wickersham freshens a stale image: “Cal may have had pots of family money, but my husband didn’t even have a small saucepan.”

Whenever possible, though, avoid clichés. Lush detail—observation of sights, sounds, smells—helps to create original expressions.

Nack could just say, “I thought about that horse day and night. I couldn’t get Secretariat out of my mind. It popped up no matter where I was or what I was doing” Zzzzzz. Instead, Nack uses compelling images to show how Secretariat shaped every minute of his life.

Write like Bill Nack. Always look for the fresh images—ideas that are familiar, but which other writers have not used before—to help the reader experience the scene –

smell, taste, touch, imagine—and think of more familiar the images, the less you will engage your reader.

“Cliches,” Geoffrey Hill notes, “invite you not to think.” Cliches give use easy, lazy was of expressing our- selves. As Hill notes, “you may always decline the invitation.” When you feel tempted to use a cliché, stop. Get in the habit of considering how to state a point simply—or think of a fresh, original way of making a point.

To avoid the dreariness of clichés, play with them. Start by looking at its literal meaning. Porter Abbott explains:

When the orator urges his or her auditors “to strike while the iron is hot,” how many of them see the sweating blacksmith at his forge and feel his magical transmutation into new meaning? The answer is none. But when one tramp suggests to another that “it might be better to strike the iron before it freezes” the original vehicle is revived in its literal state.

Taking words literally reveals the cliché’s original insight. When you do a genealogy of clichés, you discover vibrant images that can be revived.

When you change the context of cliché, you can give it new life. In a memoir of his life as an undertaker, Tomas Lynch writes about the death of a neighbor: “Milo is dead. X’s on his eyes, lights out, curtains.”


For more details on Keep It Short, click on the title.

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2 Dishes, 1 Holiday Evening

/Beth Wareham

This little table before the fire looks perfect for a one-two punch of French-inspired food and drink that is as easy as it is sophisticated and delicious. Buy a baguette to eat along with the soup. Here goes:

Leek and Potato Soup

4 Leeks, wash and clean well, slice thinly, the white part and a bit of green

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

1 pound yellow potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced thin

6 cups water

1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Add the leeks and thyme, bay leaf and salt. Stir to mix.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
  5. Stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Remove thyme and bay leaf and ladle into warm bowls. Garnish with a little more thyme or some crumbled bacon, if you’d like.

From Snapshots: Memories and Recipes by Sandra Martin (click on title to buy)

51lszmodbkl-_sx326_bo1204203200_  TO DRINK???????? Something French, of course!


A classic drink, this takes its name from the French 75mm artillery – since drinking it makes you feel you are in the line of fire. One might be enough.

  1. 1 oz gin
  2. .5 oz fresh lemon juice
  3. 2 oz Champagne or Prosecco

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin and lemon juice (some people like a dash of simple syrup as well, but we advise against this, since sparkling wine is sugary in itself). Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds, then strain into a coupe or a flute. Top the drink with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist. So very French. So very good.

From Drink Like a Grown-Up by The League of Extraordinary Drinkers (click on title to buy)


Drink Like a Grown Up Cover.indd

How to Write a Paragraph: 3 Essentials


Last night, I was editing. Not so exciting in itself except I was wearing a torn nightgown and eating Skittles. I got so tangled up in the paragraph of this manuscript, I cried out in anger and pain, pulling at my nightgown and sad I’d eaten all the candy.

So, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start….

A paragraph is a building block of a book. Within that paragraph, there are three building blooms that make it a paragraph. Or at least an intelligible paragraph. If you practice, greatness comes.

  1. S.V.O. –  This is your sentence, baby: subject, verb, object. Never forget it and it will never let you down.

Let’s write our first sentence for the paragraph together:

Beth shot her husband.

Our subject is “Beth”, our verb is “shot” and our object is “her husband.”

2.  The remaining sentences in the paragraph are about the same subject as the first     sentence of the paragraph:

Beth shot her husband. The blast threw him back against the white wall in front of her desk. The gun’s roar wouldn’t leave her ears as she crossed the room. She leaned in. He was dead. The ringing stopped and her eyes traveled back up the wall. His blood left a wild dynamic spray.

3. The last sentence winds up the paragraph and sets up the next paragraph:

Beth shot her husband. The blast threw him back against the white wall in front of her desk. The gun’s roar wouldn’t leave her ears as she crossed the room. She leaned in. He was dead. The ringing stopped and her eyes traveled back up the wall. His blood left a wild dynamic spray. Finally, she thought, I got my Pollack. 

Now, you’re set up to write the next paragraph and the one after that and the one after that and the one after that and the after…..

And finally, you’ll have a book!

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Forging Sound into Words

/beth warehamIMG_0867.JPG


An Interview with Bernard Holland

After almost 30 years as music critic of The New York Times, Bernard Holland weighs in on everything from Cosima Wagner’s diaries to Springsteen and the overuse of the meaningless word “great.”



Q. You rarely go to concerts or operas. Does this mean you are tired of music?

A: I’m not tired of music. I’m tired of the music world. In retirement I see classical music from the outside and not as a practitioner. It looks pretty artificial from out here. I’m tired of audiences bullied into ritual obedience  – sit in the dark and shut up; don’t make noise unless I say so; Music up on a stage. Listeners sitting in the dark terrified of coughing, foot shuffling or program rattling; musicians dressed up like waiters.

I have no idea how to fix this.I just went to a friend’s recital and heard five Schubert songs. They were so beautiful I nearly cried..

Q: Do you read about music? Do you keep up with what’s going on?

A: To a degree. Writing coherently about music is rare; I like to see how others do it these days. The doings of the Geffens, or music directors on the move or backstage backstabbing at the Met doesn’t get me going anymore. I pick up Cosima Wagner’s diaries every few years. Fascinating. I may actually finish this winter.

Q: What are you listening to?.

A: Not a lot. Having music going on in the background all day would drive me nuts. You listen or you don’t. I do more at our summer house in Canada . I like CBC2 radio in the car. At night I shuffle through odd piles of cds. Lots of Linda Ronstadt (purest voice I ever heard), Frank Sinatra (I am in awe), Little Richard (amazing for about 10 minutes), and then Haydn string quartets, Schubert piano sonatas. I always go back to Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. I like Shirley Horn depending on how much scotch I’ve had. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as the mourning doves in our East Village garden.

Q: What are you reading?

A: Just finished, the new George W. Bush bio, some Balzac and Teffi negotiating the new Soviet order. Next Ian McEwan’s “Nutshell”, Joe Lelyveld’s Roosevelt book, Robert Gottlieb on editing, and especially the new Bruce Springsteen. I don’t expect it to be like Keith Richards’ “Life” (the first chapter of which is among the funniest things I have ever read.) Richards is the sardonic observer. Springsteen is the guts and the nerve endings of a culture. Much to do.

Q: Who are the greatest composers?

A: Someone told me recently about a colleague who is writing a book on what makes great music great. Posited, I assume, is a greatness gene, some rare chemical compound that separates the Fortnum and Masons of music from all the Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery Stores of Garrison Keillor fame.

It’s a fool’s errand. “Great” is another one of those aerated buzzwords that float beloved into the stratosphere and mean nothing.“Great” seems to invoke size (lots off people like It) and durability (they like it for a long time).

I remember sitting in the Beverly Hills kitchen of a friend and denigrating Arnold Schoenberg’s limited appeal for later generations to Leonard Stein, who was Schoenberg’s longtime assistant and advocate. My argument: history says Schoenberg is great but very few people listen to him. Stein: that Schoenberg deeply moves only a small number of people in no way minimizes his worth or status.

Leonard Stein is right. I am wrong. Technology makes me even wronger. The number of seats filled at Carnegie Hall is not the measure it used to be. The hierarchies of “greatness” are now many and hand-held. We are not one audience agreeing on what is great. We are millions of play lists, each with its own decider.

To order Something I Heard41kVN8IFMML._AC_US160_.jpg

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Why Noah Hawley is the Guy

41d1ofpkQ6L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg www.shadowteams.com


Noah Hawley is the ultimate in creative cool and Before the Fall proves it. (Click on the title to order: Noah needs a little more dough.)  He is a polymath of form, creating Fargo the television show for FX.  He’ll also produce and write the pilot of FX’s Legion, based on the Marvel comic character. He signed a deal with Universal for a film in their monster series and will write the screenplay for Before the Fall for Sony.  He’s about to direct a film by a first-time screenwriter. Noah is a busy dude.

Before Before the Fall, however, Mr Hawley published four books with four different publishers. Why, I can’t imagine. If I got my hands on a writer with the Porsche engine of Noah Hawley, I would have never let him go.  (As an editor, sillies.) I don’t know what the history with those 4 books and those 4 publishers was, but I doubt it was that great. Writers stay where they are supported. They move on if they are not.

But his publishing past is moot. What Noah did was extraordinary, a gift I’d been waiting for, praying would happen. Noah fused the wild velocity and back and forth time travel of the best of on-demand storytelling.  He surprised at every corner, keeping you endlessly off balance (kinda like the world).  He even turns his ending on end: It’s the petty and mundane that kills in the end.

Noah Hawley is the guy. The velocity of his writing is spectacular and all I can think about is,  When will Fargo start up again? When is Noah publishing his next book? Can I see his directorial debut yet? 

Velocity.  My company – www.LisaHaganBooks.com – has some. It’s not Noah Hawley, but it’s fast. Try some of it out sometime:  Hair Club Burning   The Gringo Maniac Murder Spree   Women in Black

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My College Roommate — My Body Guard: A Story and Review of My College Roommate’s New Novel, HAIR CLUB BURNING an Interracial Comedy

GUEST BLOGGER: Lisa Shanahan, “Coffeelicious”


th.jpegVanderbilt University

Come for the wisecracks and the sex scenes. Stay for the message.

The funniest woman I’ve ever known is my college roommate, Beth Wareham. Her new book with co-author, Jason Davis, about a housewife from Westchester County and a gangbanger from Harlem getting it on in hilarious circumstances, is a beautiful thing, y’all.

Another beautiful thing? The real-life story of Beth and me.
I was one angry young woman by the time I met Beth my senior year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. I’d arrived freshman year a sheltered, naïve, seventeen-year-old from an all-girls high school with a progressive bent.

Y’all see, society on the Vanderbilt campus in the late seventies didn’t work the way my Sunday School teachers at East Ridge Baptist Christ in East Ridge, Tennessee, told me all my life that they did, as in the song that goes: “Jesus Loves the Little Children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow. Black and white. They are precious in his sight. “Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Jesus may love them, but in college, I learned that people do not love all the little children. A codified social system based on the Greek letters of the alphabet stacked everybody up in fraternities and sororities against one another according to gender, race, and creed. And that’s for starters. There were other markers for dress, wealth, and social standing. The Greek system that dominated social life at Vandy, which was accepted as the way things were, awakened this little believer, who had almost zero prior knowledge of sororities and fraternities, to the injustices in the world.

By senior year, heartbroken and pissed off at the world, I was living in a single in the stoner dorm, the result of two life-altering decisions I made junior year.

Number one, I’d deactivated from my “exclusive” sorority following a year of acting out after an officer told me my friend, who was rushing sophomore year, couldn’t join our sorority because she was Jewish and wouldn’t represent our Christian ideals. Angry, aghast, shocked that this officer had gotten an entirely different message than I had out of Sunday School. I never participated in the sorority at the level they required again. After a year of cutting meetings, of not caring, they asked me to leave. I’m still ashamed of myself for not quitting that day I found out what all my former sorority represented, for acting out childishly instead of protesting and demanding answers.

Number two, my pivotal junior year, I switched majors from Molecular Biology, from being a pre-med, to English, but that’s a long-form story for another day.

Thus, long story short, I wound up alone, in a single, in the stoner dorm senior year — gladly rid of my sorority status, but bittersweet about leaving my group of pre-med grinds.

That fall John Lennon was shot. I was eating next to nothing after a nasty breakup with my long-time, on-again/off-again boyfriend over my summer romance in London with an Irish boy. I was listening to the Steve Winwood album Arc of a Diver over and over. I visited my high school boyfriend in Chapel Hill in a lame, failed attempt to recapture my past. I wrote an emo-style paper for an independent study on e. e. cummings that my professor called “oddly elliptical.” A cute frat boy, one with a mind and a heart, in my Medieval Literature, class came to visit me in my single, but only wanted help with his homework.

Right before Christmas, a friend and former roommate — bless her — invited me to live in her suite with five other girls the next semester. I’d be in a double with a girl I’d never met. “Yes, please,” I’d said, afraid that I was living in an unhealthy way, knowing I had to stop ruminating on my lost pre-med status, my nasty break-up, my lost Irish boy, the stigma of having de-activated from my sorority and take on the motherf’ing world that did not love all the little children. I was a privileged person — a young, educated white woman from a supportive family that’d risen in the world by starting a business. Moaning and moping anymore about my “aloneness,” I felt, would’ve been ridiculous.

Enter my new roommate. Beth Wareham. A six-foot-tall Texan outfitted with a gorgeous tan, a mane of blond hair, and a sharp-shooting wit that mowed down frat boys within a hundred yards.

That last semester at Vanderbilt, I still felt the sting of being a persona non grata in my former circles, since I’d lost my labels, since I didn’t dress to conform in preppy pink and green, since the whole scene pissed me off, but I have to hand it to Wareham. That girl was my tonic — this little nonconformist’s bodyguard, the first badass I ever knew. With her, screw ’em, I was back to walking the brick byways of Vandy with impunity. Y’all see, Beth was her own woman, had never pledged a sorority, was solely the product of her convictions; and I was proud to be her new roommate and friend.

We could’ve fit in if we’d wanted to, but we didn’t want to. We didn’t want to conform when so many others didn’t even have the choice.

After graduating, I moved to Boston to work in publishing, an idea that’d germinated during my hiatus in the stoner dorm. Beth joined me for a year, but then moved on, on her own journey, ending up in Manhattan in publishing, where she lives today with her husband, a former music critic for The New York Times.

For the past decade Beth and her co-writer Jason Smith — a Blood, O.G., as in the gang in Harlem and the Bronx, now a writer and father who mentors at-risk youth — have been friends. Beth says she and Jason cause a bit of a stir out together in New York. Feeling the camaraderie, the empowerment I’d felt with her, I imagine them striding the concrete canyons of Manhattan — friends, blood brothers — slaying the haters.

In Beth and Jason’s stylishly hilarious new book, Hair Club Burning: An Interracial Comedy, Marianne — a Westchester County real housewife — takes down her low-down, no-account, bastard-of-a-husband with the help of Jay — a gangbanger from Harlem — who perhaps needs Marianne as much as she needs him. A match made in heaven, Marianne and Jay burn the f’ing house down. Y’all will be amused, delighted, shocked, enthralled in the company of these funny-as-shit badasses, who discover love is, indeed, color-blind.

Come for the wisecracks and the sex scenes. Stay for the message.

“Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow. Black and white. They are precious in his sight.”


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Excerpt from HAIR CLUB BURNING by Beth Wareham and Jason Davis

“That went well,” Rachel Rosenthalerheim said as Mary Ann drove her and Archie back to the train station.

“I thought it best to stop where we were,” Arch reported.

“Good call, Arch,” Rachel said as Mary Ann sat next to her, staring at the road ahead through the steering wheel, tears without beginning, end or sound on her face.

Rachel and Arch continued to talk back and forth as if she wasn’t there. She made it through two more stoplights before pulling into the parking lot of One World Liquors.

No one would mistake it for a holy spot but it’s where Mary Ann let rip her confession: “I beg both your forgiveness. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I used to have control.”


“It’s called grief, Mary Ann,” Rachel Rosenthalerheim said.

“It’s beyond that. My rage is so complete that when I saw him, it had nowhere to go. I actually think about murdering him when I’m not thinking of fucking this black guy. That’s the only two thoughts I seem to have.”

As the words ‘fucking this black guy” filled out the interior of the car, a strange smell floated about. Mary Ann now added sound to her tears.

After several moments, Rachel spoke first, “in the city, interracial couples are becoming the norm. Many people on the subway, well, it is impossible to determine the color of their parents by looking at them. I myself have dated many men of color in my life: They are just attracted to me for some reason. Neither Arch nor I are surprised by your words.”

“Speak for yourself, Rachel. You have a shelf butt and more black man have dug you than all the trenches in Georgia. As you can see,” Arch turned to address the back of Mary Ann’s head,  I come from people who feel strongly about purity.”

“That’s what Hitler said,” Rachel said. “With that kind of white bullshit….”

“PLEASE. I can’t take it,” Mary Ann sobbed out. “You don’t think it feels weird to me to lust for the one thing my Mamma and Daddy taught me was the low-est form of lust a women could have?”


“You were raised by racists?” Rachel whispered. “No! They weren’t racists!” Mary Ann yelled. “They weren’t racists!” Mary Ann continued yelling. “They were an insurance salesman and a school teacher who told me to never go to the Negro part of town.”

“Awk! Did you say ‘negro?” Arch yelled from the backseat. “Even I wouldn’t do that and I’m Hitler, apparently.”

“Look who is falling into an outdated vernacular,” Rachel said, staring at Mary Ann.

“Did you say ‘vernacular’ to me?” Mary Ann asked. “Who DOES THAT in the middle of an argument?”

“A lawyer with Vegas hair and a huge rear end, apparently” Arch said.

“Oh, so now my hair is on trial rather than my sex life,” yelled Rachel Rosenthalerheim.

“How did we get on hair?” Mary Ann asked, looking up and sniffing.

“Stupid discussion,” Rachel’s car voice had returned. “Look, I’m gonna pop in here so I’ll have my wine without having to go back out when I get to the city.”

“Good idea,” Arch agreed. “I’ll join you. I love a good blended scotch, a deeply unpopular idea among some of my clients. But there you have it. I’m the man of the people, I guess…”

Mary Ann was dumbfounded. She had just confessed to her legal team her most hidden, lurid thoughts and they had ended up gleefully shopping for cheap liquor just outside New York City.


The association Mary Ann didn’t quite make inside her mind that day was that the ‘negro part of town’ was now the ‘hood, and she was beginning to benefit from its ways.


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